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Nearly 17 percent of young Utahns score too low on military exam to enlist

Published December 21, 2010 6:06 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

More than one in five young people nationwide who try to join the military score too low on its entrance exam to enlist, according to a report released Tuesday.

But in Utah, young applicants fared better, with 16.7 percent failing the exam, according to the report from The Education Trust.

Utah had the ninth lowest percentage of young people in the nation who were ineligible to enlist in the U.S. Army because they failed the exam. In Utah, 16.7 percent of 2,354 high school graduates ages 17-20 who took the test between 2004 and 2009 tested too low to enlist.

Utah's Latinos didn't fare as well, though, compared with their peers nationwide. Among Utah Latinos who took the test, 31.3 percent tested too low to be eligible to serve — more than the national average of 29.1 percent for Latinos.Young white Utahns performed better than the national average, 14th in the nation for the lowest percentage to test ineligible to serve.

Applicants must take United States Army's Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) tests to determine if they qualify for enlistment and, if so, what occupations they're prepared for. The report measured whether applicants scored high enough on four of the ASVAB subtests — math knowledge, arithmetic reasoning, word knowledge, and paragraph comprehension — to qualify for enlistment.

"The findings should trouble high school educators most of all, because this shatters the comfortable myth that academically underprepared students will find in the military a second-chance pathway to success," wrote Kati Haycock, Education Trust president in statement within the report.

Nationwide, Wyoming had the lowest percentage of students overall who failed the exam, and Hawaii had the highest.